I’m sat here ready to meet Becky (my fiancee) at our favourite whisky bar in Melbourne: The Elysian in Fitzroy. It’s our last weekend in Melbourne so it’s guaranteed that we’re going to sample some amazing drams throughout the night, but right now I am going to go back over my tasting notes for three of the last whiskies I sampled during my last visit to The Elysian. These three bottles are from the German independent bottler, The Whisky Warehouse.
I am going to review these in order of age starting with a 9 year old Tomatin which was distilled in 2007, then I’ll be moving onto an 18 year old from Macduff which was distilled in 1997 before finishing with a 27 year old Strathmill distilled in 1988. These whiskies are a bit unusual as they have all spent some time being finished in sherry octave casks. Octaves are really tiny casks, and the reason they’re called octaves is due to the fact that they are roughly one eighth the size of a standard butt. Some people are weary of whiskies that have undergone finishing in small casks as they assume that the spirit didn’t age particularly well due to a fairly inactive cask so the bottling company threw it into a small cask to see if they could create something palatable. I try not to approach these whiskies with cynicism and just let my nose and palate make a decision. I will tell you which one of these drams was my favourite at the end of the review, it might surprise you. Also, apologies for the potato quality photo.
Review #136 – Tomatin 2007 (9 year old) (YoN Rating: 82/100)
Nose: rich toasty malt, porridge, struck matches, spiced fruit cake, clove studded preserved oranges, damp garage, Trappist ale yeast (ester heavy), a touch of young alcohol but certainly nothing too overwhelming. Very pleasant nose and surprising for its age.
Palate: more of that rich warming malt, Lyle’s black treacle cake, marmalade, persimmon, sticky dates and Oloroso.
Finish: long finish, syrupy flavours of chocolate liquors and warming oak linger on the palate.
Overall: the nose was a wee bit more complex than the palate on this young Tomatin, and with it being the youngest expression of the tasting and the first of the three, it was a great start.
Review #137 – Macduff 1997 (18 year old) (YoN Rating: 76/100)
Nose: despite this one being twice the age of the Tomatin I found this Macduff to present itself as much younger on the nose. More of a cereal character to this one: wholegrain sourdough bread, scrumpy, sugar puffs, grain alcohol, iso-amyl alcohol, heather and white pepper.
Palate: As the nose suggested, this 18 year presents itself as much younger than it actually is – rather thin mouthfeel. Up front theres a bit of young grain alcohol character(corn whisky?), crab apples, definitely needs a bit of water to open it up. After a small amount of water it mellows out a bit more bringing forward flavours of brandy soaked raisins, dark chocolate, hobnob biscuits, lemongrass, warming oak, toasted marshmallows, slightly sulphurous and also a little sweet.
Finish: medium finish, honeyed sweetness, a little bit of sweet spice, but still a little too hot for my liking.
Overall: 18 years in the cask hasn’t done much to tame this liquid. Feels younger on the nose and palate than its age statement, reminiscent of corn distillate, water helps the palate but it can’t work miracles.
Review #138 – Strathmill 1988 (27 year old) (YoN Rating: 80/100)
Nose: Subdued, much softer on the nose than the other two. Toasted almonds, truffle oil, lavender, damp heather, wildflowers, hay, vanilla pod, caramelised sugar and pecan pie.
Palate: maraschino cherrys, Oloroso, oily tapenade, grassy notes, bitter gourd, mulled wine, strawberry jam and dried apricot.
Finish: long finish, with lingering notes of sticky Oloroso sherry, winter spice and a slight bitterness.
Overall: the oldest expression out of the three, a very enjoyable dram, lots of Strathmill character with the floral and grassy notes. I think the additional maturation period in the octave cask really helped shape this expression into something much more robust.
From favourite to least favourite: Tomatin>Strathmill>Macduff. My opinion of these three differed from the opinions of Kelvin and Yao at The Elysian who preferred the Strathmill, but that’s the beauty of whisky, it’s all subjective and we all have different flavour preferences.
Hope you’ve enjoyed this review, I should have some other good reviews coming up soon as I have a lot of tasting notes from last nights Shinanoya tasting at The Elysian.